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Monday, November 6, 2017

Emerging Risks and Opportunties of investing in Nigerian economy from the perspective of Buhari's agenda

        Nigerian economy has just come out of recession that engulfed it from 2016 to 2017. Recession, not just in Nigeria, usually scare away foreign investors who want to avoid putting their money in negative growth territory. Added to this was Nigeria battle with Boko Haram, though that threat has subsided with government taken over of areas previously controlled by the insurgents. But, other security threats such as kidnapping and arm robbery remain. In the past four decades, the major stumbling block in the way of Nigeria as it moved towards achieving it developmental goals was corruption. Today not much can be said to have changed, despite Buhari government mantra about fighting corruption. But, some notable achievements have been realized in other associated lines. Particularly, government policy of single treasury account has helped federal government blocked leakages in its revenue and weeded out thousands of ghost workers and dubious contracts. Government has also created 'whistle blower' program that received alerts on corrupt transactions and acted on it. Risks associated with the movements in oil price are still the major obstacle in the way of Buhari efforts to stabilize Naira and rise level of foreign reserve. Just like in other developing economies, Nigeria problem is compounded by poor infrastructures to the extent that in some cases investors have to provide their own power and build access roads in order to stay in business. Nigeria has improved in the latest world bank ease of doing business ranking jumping 24 places from 169 to 145. This is another signal to foreign investors that Nigeria is really open for business. Many macro-economists have projected Nigerian economy to grow in 2017 and 2018, albeit moderately. The gradual appreciation in the price of crude oil is expected to translate into improvement in macroeconomic fundamentals such as foreign exchange rate, foreign reserve, inflation and interest rate. As more money enters federal government ownership, overall level of liquidity in the economy will improve. Likewise, the value of Naira and level of foreign reserve. But, government must improve its economic management process for it to achieve all these. Federal government shall, as a matter of necessity, involve more competent individuals in the management of the economy. In this regard Buhari shall expand his economic team by involving industrialists, academics, businessmen, bankers, and international consultants. Thus, Buhari shall learn from other countries and not keep things to himself and his weak economic team.

            The recent offer of Sukuk bond to investors by Nigerian government was over subscribed. This to some extent show the attraction of Nigerian economy to both local and domestic investors. It is clear indication that investors are optimistic on Nigerian economy. The massive infrastructural investments in roads, railways, power generation and airports embarked on by this government is a positive indicator of the future potential of the economy, all things being equal. Other government commitments like in boosting consumers demands through direct involvement in poverty alleviation programs, and gradual injections of liquidity into the economy were aim at returning the economy into path of grow. The general improvement in nation's security is a positive thing for the economy.  Already, Boko Haram has been subdued, Niger Delta militancy reduced, Biafra agitations tamed and other security challenges are being deals with gradually. According to the world bank, political stability, security, and regulatory environment are leading factors driving decisions to invest in developing countries. Despite recent improvement in Nigeria ease of doing business ranking, Federal government must do better than it is doing now to fight bureaucracy and red tape in the governance process. One important sector that all potential investors shall pay attention to is agriculture. Already this government has shown commitments to develop the sector through massive investments and discouragement of importation of food items from abroad. With population approaching 200 millions, Nigeria is a bigger consuming nation not only in Africa but the world. Thus, producers of retail products shall see this as an opportunity to invest their money where they will drive the highest benefits. Real estate investors have opportunity to invest in a developing economy hungry for shelters. Manufacturers shall see this as chance to expand their markets looking at the gradual improvement in power supply and government efforts to build all kind of infrastructures. As general election in 2019 is fast approaching, the implications of the election on the economy include possible inflation spiral. The usual unpredictable atmosphere that come with election will possibly delay some investment until after election particularly money coming from pessimistic investors. Despite that we shall expect more investors friendly atmosphere as government do everything possible to please voters and demonstrate that it is working for the interest of the nation. The political stability that is gradually becoming part of Nigerian democracy since 1999 has helped in reducing political risk,  thus improving the country's economic outlook to the rest of the world.